Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Starting from the pine clad massifs of the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope ranges to the sparkling blues of the Black Sea, Bulgaria offers something for everything from sun kissed beaches to buzzing party towns to snow shrouded ski resorts of Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo between its borders.

Sofia, the Capital of Bulgaria is a mixture of both its past and present. In the centre of the city, you will find the ancient remains of the Serdica Fort and the Roman-Byzantine Church of St. George. Then there is the iconic Orthodox Domes of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which glow under the snow packed peaks of Vitosha Mountain in the distance.

One of the most famous Eastern Orthodox Monasteries in the world, Rila has ascended to become a veritable symbol of the Bulgarian nation. Inserted on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983, it has an combination of Mamluk, Arabesque, Byzantine and Romanesque styles and resplendent iconostases walls, carved meticulously and inlaid with shimmering gold leaf.

Veliko Tarnovo is a renowned City of the Tsars, which stands on the edge of the foothills of Bulgaria’s northern mountains. Bisected by the S shaped meanders of the Yantra River, the town’s setting is nothing short of breathtaking with terraces of terracotta coloured roofs looming over the waterways below. The city has beautiful cobblestone lanes and half-timbered homes, which contrast the natural beauty of the coniferous woods that cover the landscapes around it.

Wrapped over seven hills along the paths of the beautiful Maritsa River, Plovdiv runs the scope of historical sights, encompassing Roman Amphitheatres, Thracian Fortresses, honorific monuments to Bulgaria’s own Krum the Fearsome and National Revival Churches. The stunning Old Town centre has many winding alleyways, Byzantine arches and hidden squares as well as some of the most stunning houses.

Bulgaria is one of the biggest rose oil producers in the world. Situated in Kazanlak, the Rose Valley is unique to Bulgaria and covers a huge area. This is where the biggest rose plantations and the main rose oil facilities are located. Every year in June, there is a month long Rose Festival, which takes place. It is one of the best times for nature lovers to visit Bulgaria and during this time, the area gives off a pleasant scent and is covered with multi coloured flowers. There are tours on offer that include both the Rose Festival and Valley of the Thracian Kings.

Koprivshtitsa is perfectly preserved between the spruces and pines that cover the Valleys of the Sredna Gora Mountains like a beautifully decorated gingerbread carving of a town. The whole town is a protected national monument, supposed to reflect and define the achievements of the Bulgarian National Revival movement in its wealth of painted façades, realist stone sculptures and shuttered homes.

The Beaches in Bulgaria are spectacular for that summer holiday destination. Varna is a local favourite on the edge of the Black Sea with lots of seafood restaurants, cocktail bars and lively nightclubs to visit in the evening. Sunny Beach is more of a party town, packed with nightclubs, pubs and flashy neon signs. Burgas is one of the favoured gateways to the southern stretches of the Black Sea Coast. A far cry from the ancient and historic centres that pepper the country elsewhere, it’s a largely modern affair of Art Deco rises and manicured parks on the edge of the sea. It is also home to some of the most lively music festivals in Bulgaria.

Nessebar is a shining medieval Byzantine pearl sitting along the Black Sea. This city is one of the most enchanting and unforgettable cities on the Bulgaria’s Coast. It’s famed for an enthralling UNESCO centre where layers of Thracian ruins mix with eye watering Churches built between the 5th to 10th Centuries.

Zheravna lies nestled at the base of the mighty Balkan Mountains, between dense woods of Bosnian pines and white elms, where it seems almost organically formed in its timber-clad, stony appearance. A showcase of all things Bulgarian National Revival, Zheravna is a rustic and raw picture of one of the country’s most iconic architectural styles where the cottages pepper the cobbled streets.

Other places to visit when in Bulgaria include the Pirin National Park, a UNESCO marked region located against the borders of Macedonia and Greece. Here you can find snow summits, alpine valleys and animals like deer, bears and wild goats.

Perperikon has traces of human settlement dating back more than seven millennia and has been hailed as the most awesome monolithic structure in the entire Balkan Peninsula. At the top of the hill is Perperikon, a must-see for history buffs and culture vultures making their way through Bulgaria. Before it was built up and fortified by the Thracian tribespeople, it’s thought that Copper Age Priests used the hill for rituals and soothsaying, which legend has it foretold the rise of both Alexander the Great and Imperial Rome under Augustus.

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